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12 July, 2021

ITALY 1-1 ENGLAND (PENS: 3-2)

ITALY 1-1 ENGLAND (PENS: 3-2)
Gianluigi Donnarumma saved two penalties as the Azzurri claimed their second EURO title after a tense final at Wembley.

Gianluigi Donnarumma denied Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho, while Marcus Rashford hit the post as Italy edged a penalty shoot-out dripping in tension to overcome England in the UEFA EURO 2020 final.

England had a dream start to their first ever EURO showpiece, Luke Shaw thumping in a fine goal inside two minutes to light up Wembley. Yet Italy slowly found their feet and midway through the second half Leonardo Bonucci found the net. On to extra time, and then penalties, where both goalkeepers saved two; history, though, belongs to Donnarumma the victor.

Match in brief

“It is important we make a good start,” Roberto Mancini had said on the eve of Italy’s fourth EURO final. What ensued was anything but. With less than two minutes on the clock, Harry Kane spread a pass out wide to surprise starter Kieran Trippier, and his delightful cross was met by a crisp left-footed half-volley from the stealthy Shaw. England rejoiced.

If the atmosphere was electric before, it was enough to power half of north London once the goal went in. The Azzurri were shocked but showed their mettle as they regrouped, gained a foothold and started stringing passes together. Only the final pass, the final shot let them down – not always by much, with the excellent Federico Chiesa whistling a shot just wide before the break.

The pressure was ratcheted up after half-time and eventually it told. Domenico Berardi’s corner caused all manner of problems, and though Jordan Pickford pushed Marco Verratti’s header onto the post, Bonucci was there to prod in. Italy came again and again. But England held on. Into extra time we went, and then penalties, which seesawed back and forth.

Pickford denied Andrea Belotti and Jorginho; Rashford struck the post and Sancho, also introduced on 120 minutes, was denied by Donnarumma. Saka, the youngest man on the pitch, could have taken it to sudden death, but Donnarumma guessed right and, once and for all, England’s unofficial anthem Sweet Caroline was silenced.

For a generation of Italy fans, the good times really have never seemed so good.

Penalty shoot-out

1-0 Berardi (Italy)
1-1 Kane (England)
1-1 Belotti (Italy)
1-2 Maguire (England)
2-2 Bonucci (Italy)
2-2 Rashford (England)
3-2 Bernardeschi (Italy)
3-2 Sancho (England)
3-2 Jorginho (Italy)
3-2 Saka (England)

Star of the Match: Leonardo Bonucci (Italy)

“Such a strong defensive performance from the 34-year-old. Great distribution out from the back and the all-important equaliser.”
Packie Bonner, UEFA Technical Observer

Paolo Menicucci, Italy reporter
Facing England at Wembley was not enough; Italy also conceded an early goal to make their task even more difficult. A normal team could have lost the game there and then. But this is not a normal team. The Azzurri never lost focus and courage, and eventually equalised through Bonucci. They took control of the midfield and their penalty shoot-out win was just reward for their performance and great character.

Simon Hart‏, England reporter
England made the perfect start, yet that feels a long time ago after the way Italy took control in the second period. There were echoes of the Russia 2018 semi-final loss to Croatia: an early lead but then domination by the opposition. Even the equaliser came at roughly the same time. For Southgate, a more painful echo too was the hurt of another EURO shoot-out defeat at Wembley. Yet his team have travelled further than any England side for 55 years and given their supporters so many reasons for optimism once tonight’s hangover has cleared.

Reaction

Roberto Mancini, Italy coach: “The guys were amazing. I have no words for them; this is a wonderful squad. This game was always going to be difficult, and after their early goal even more so, but we dominated from then on. You have to have a little luck on penalties and I’m a little sorry for England because they also played a great tournament.”

Gianluigi Donnarumma, Italy goalkeeper: “We have done something extraordinary. We are delighted. We didn’t give them an inch. You all know where we started. We are a fantastic team and we deserve this.”

Gareth Southgate, England coach: “We are hugely disappointed. I think the players have been an absolute credit; they have given everything they possibly could. Tonight was exactly the same; they have run themselves into the ground.”

Harry Kane, England captain: “The boys couldn’t have given more. Penalties are the worst feeling in the world when you lose. It’s been a fantastic tournament – we should be proud, hold our heads up high. It’s going to hurt now, it’s going to hurt for a while.”

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